Udine Far East Film Festival describes in three words their retrospective film selection of the studio Shintoho, giving audiences expectations of sex, violence and horror.
The 12th installment of the Udine far East Film Festival sees a retrospective set of films from the Japanese film studio Shintoho, specifically from the late 1950’s with Shimura Toshio’s “Revenge of the Pearl Queen” (1956) to the early 1960’s with “The Horizon Glitters” (1961) by Doi Michiyoshi.
Shintoho started in 1947 by employees of the Tokyo based Toho Company, during a strike at the company; its name means “New Toho”. The studio became known as one of the major studios of the second golden age of Japanese cinema, and it produced over 500 pieces of cinema within its 14 years. The company has a variety of low budget cinematic texts from musicals to the youth film, but it became known for its exploitation nature with its films being categorized as ero-guro (erotic grotesque). The company became bankrupt in 1961 with its last film being “Jigoku” (1960) by Nobouo Nakagawa; the festival is showing two films by the director made in the same year as “Jigoku”, “Death Row Woman” (1960) and “Ghost of Yotsuya” (1959). The majority of the Shintoho films at Udine are from the year 1960, the cuff of a new era that will see the exploitation film rise and become its own genre which became known as Pinku Eiga/Pink cinema.
A director who made their directing debut at Shintoho and became one of the studio’s most influential directors, (which is reflected in Udine’s choice to show 5 out of the 15 Shintoho selection) is the work of Ishii Teruo. Teruo described as the king of cult by critics influenced the future of the crime genre. Teruo’s work of the Line film series brings film noir and ero guro together, which is described as “uniquely Ishii”. The festival will show the second film “Black Line” (1960) and the third “Yellow Line” (1960) of the crime thriller film series. Teruo also remade the aforementioned “Jigoku” (1999), which he developed to reflect the socio-cultural problems within Japan at the time. After Shintoho’s closure in 1961, Teruo freelanced at Toei until 1979. During his time at Toei, the king of ero guro shaped Toei’s own take on the pink film known as pinky violence, a genre which became known for its powerful female characters. Teruo’s work in the genre of pinky violence is renowned and he is a seminal director within the subgenre.
The festival’s retrospective looks at Shintoho, seems to be mostly of its horror collection with a hint of yakuza crime films, it could be said that a mixture of the studios work on youth delegant films and its musicals would have resulted in a more rounded representative of one of the most influential production studios in Japan.
by Michelle Bailey